Personality Tests: Political Metrics

Ideological introspection by another person’s metric is hardly ever going to be accurate but it is mischievously fascinating.


This kind of test resonates with precisely the kind of personality assessments that Cambridge Analytica so successfully exploited. I’m not asserting that any inadvertent conspiratorial undercurrent exists in this instance but there may be (other) rich philosophical seams of insight to be mined here.

Notice that an observational, participatory metric and expression of self-identity is not merely a reflection of some underlying substrate of bundled affectations or personal and ethical (or ideological) commitments – this metric is what self-identity and political affiliation foundationally is.

Where Paul Verlaine wrote that “l’application c’est le plupart de l’intelligence”, the same might be said of the public confessional of online testing for character, personality or ideological traits. It is, most certainly, a complex surface and high-dimensional state space but it remains only that: just a surface, hollow and – discomforting as it might be – quite thoroughly transient, insubstantial. This is why we are so easily and almost narcotically drawn to metrics of self-definition; they provide a buttress against an endemic existential doubt and for this reason will continue to draw us all as reflexive moths to their naked flame.

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